August 5, 2020 By Fruit and Vegetable
The Government of British Columbia is waiving minimum income requirements for existing B.C. farm operations, allowing them to maintain their current property tax farm status for 2021.
The news is a relief for B.C. farmers unsure if they would bring in enough revenue through farm gate sales to meet the minimum income requirements.
“Our government is committed to helping farmers farm, and we are working to create a strong and resilient food system,” said Lana Popham, minister of agriculture. “It’s been a difficult year for many people, and this change is just one more example of how we are recognizing the challenges and supporting farmers.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging for some B.C. farm operations, including smaller-scale farms that depend on roadside stands, farm markets and public interaction for sales revenue. Without this action, a number of properties would have been in jeopardy of losing farm status for the 2021 tax year, significantly increasing the property tax burden on those farmers and farm families.
In B.C., to receive and maintain farm class, the land must generate income from one or more “qualifying agricultural uses” which range from uses such as horticulture, fruit and vegetable production and herb production. The minimum gross income requirements are calculated based on land used for production and farm gate amount. For example, a producer farming up to 1.98 acres must make $10,000 once every two years. A producer farming between 1.98 acres and 10 acres, must make $2,500 once every two years.
Normally, BC Assessment removes the land from farm class if a farm doesn’t meet the income requirements. However, this year the minimum requirement is waived.
“We know that robust and healthy farm operations will play an important role as we restart our economy,” said Selina Robinson, minister of municipal affairs and housing. “Our government is committed to helping farmers maintain their farm classification for 2021 to ensure they can produce the food people in B.C. rely on.”
In order to be classified as a farm in British Columbia, properties must meet certain criteria, including generating a minimum amount of gross income from a qualifying agriculture use based on the size of the parcel of land. This minimum income requirement must be met every two years and there must be some income generated every year. BC Assessment sends out self-reporting income questionnaires and conducts intermittent inspections to determine whether a property should maintain its farm status for the upcoming tax year.
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